Throughout my years in elementary school and high school, I always knew what I wanted to be… a professional actor.
I don’t know why my hand went up, but in second grade, I volunteered to play Jesus in a skit, and then went on to land the lead roles in two high school plays. Later, when I graduated from college, I studied acting in Los Angeles with a world-renowned acting coach to the stars.
This is how my life would pan out: I would be a famous film star, marry a beautiful woman, have two kids, then retire at age 50.
The only thing that came to pass was that I married a beautiful woman.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
Somehow, in the mire of whimsical dreams and fairy-tale fantasies that whiz through our minds and hearts for years, God, in His sovereignty, ultimately has His way in our lives. How sad it would be to harbor nebulous desires for years, only to see them evaporate over time, leaving a grieving heart lamenting a journey of waste!
I thank God that He didn’t afford me fame to feed that unsaved soul of mine — hoping, begging that somehow the hole in my heart from a messed up childhood would finally be filled.
But if He had told me back then that I would someday hold an ordinary job as I father ten children, most of whom have special needs, I would’ve packed my bags for Mexico. Surely they have acting jobs!
After celebrating a big birthday recently, I can honestly say that there is peace knowing where I am – that’s where I’m meant to be. Because the Lord’s purpose prevails.
That is comfort.
That is contentment.
That is fulfillment.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. With each of our seven adoptions that happened over eleven years, I have been terrified. My concern was not whether I could love another orphan as my own. That never worried me. My angst was different…
“Can I do this?”
“Am I good enough?”
“Will I be content?”
“Will I disappoint You if I fail?”
Each time, the Father of fathers has said, “No, you cannot do this on your own. Apart from Me, you can do nothing. But isn’t that true for everything, my son?”
It really is not about me. Or about any of us. Living a surrendered life is scary. But please know this — at the same time, it is comforting. If I’ve used all of my strength trying to keep from drowning in the middle of an ocean, I am happy to let go and allow a strong Coast Guard swimmer to hoist me to safety.
I am always taken aback when strangers or even acquaintances observe the Salem life and with a stunned look on their face, ask, “How do you do it?” I don’t think about it, really.
There is a great song by an old country western singer named Charley Pride called One Day at a Time. And I used to laugh whenever I saw bumper stickers stating the same phrase back in the 70s. What does that even mean? I thought. Hey. Today I know what that means.
One day at a time.
When someone’s sick and certain substances leave their body from different exits. And it happens to two or three at the same time.
One day at a time.
Or when four of our healthy children have sports events in four different places at the same time, while other children are sick at home.
One day at a time.
My wife and I have a saying: Don’t sweat the small stuff. But Anthony, that’s big stuff!
No. Big stuff is experienced by families far more noble than ours — those who adopt children with terminal illnesses. Those who care for a houseful of children alone because of a divorce or death of a spouse.
You see, for every challenge, if you can call it that, there are hundreds of moments that pierce my heart with so much love I cannot contain it.
When one of our daughters grabs my ears every night before she goes to sleep, squeezes her eyes together, and prays in the best gibberish she can muster up.
When our daughter in a wheelchair who is extremely developmentally delayed flails her arms and bursts out in excitement for no apparent reason, other than possibly seeing angels or Jesus.
When another daughter is convinced that the way you pronounce “octopus” is “octetopus.”
When still another daughter who cannot speak because of autism and many other diagnoses giggles when I repeatedly kiss her cheek in bed at night and tell her I love her.
Loving just because.
Sometimes as a dad, I just stare at one of our kids with special needs and want to break down. Sometimes I stare at one of our typical kids and swoon in my heart. The kids without special needs are in this too, taking it one day at a time. My wife and I have purposed to never let them feel left out or that they’re missing something in life because we have chosen this life we live. Some day, they will move out, and it is our hearts’ desire that the heart of God for an abandoned child would have been adequately reflected in how my wife and I raised this family, even if they choose to not adopt.
As for the others who will remain at home? Well, life will go on until the Lord brings someone home. There will be no empty-nest syndrome and, for that, I’m so happy. It’s overrated anyway.
Golf and gardening until Jesus comes? No, thank you.
If I had made it as a famous actor, I shutter to think how I would’ve lived out my last years.
Truth be told, I would never have made it as a famous actor. I was never that good. I am so glad that God’s purpose prevailed in my life! You see, He knew… when I didn’t.
This Father’s Day, I celebrate my weakness. Because without it, I would have hopelessly relied on my own miserable abilities to be fulfilled. My bad acting saved my life!
So the reason why I celebrate my weakness is because I want and need His strength as a substitute. I can “tap out” so that God can come into the ring. That’s really what’s going on. Not that I am a Marvel superhero who God has “gifted” with supernatural abilities. My abilities suck. My willingness is another thing.
Dads, be encouraged. Jesus loves you and is still on the throne. If the Father has called you to do extraordinary things, you’re not able, but you will do it. I’m smiling now as I type this, because it’s so true.
All that the Father wants to hear is that you’re willing.
So many great leaders in the Bible had so many flaws, and some were pathetic. But they had this in common — they said Yes. And that puts a smile on God’s face.
Happy Fathers Day, Dads!
– guest post by Anthony